A local panel is hoping to put a stop to the resurrection of a controversial karaoke club near the border of Dyker Heights and Sunset Park where someone died last April.
Members of Community Board 10 voted unanimously on Mon., Jan. 28 to recommend that the State Liquor Authority (SLA) deny the club at 848 64th St., the site of the former crime-ridden Crown KTV, a full liquor license.
“This location has a long and quite adverse history,” Lori Willis, the board’s Police and Public Safety Committee chairperson told a packed crowd at the Fort Hamilton Senior Center, adding that, prior to the board’s general meeting, the committee itself had voted unanimously to recommend that the SLA vote down the license requested by the most recent applicant at the site, Ming Hao.
The premises has been “plagued with adverse history,” Willis stressed, since first converting from a warehouse to the infamous Crown KTV in 2009. In fact, just six months after opening, the karaoke club was regarded as one of the NYPD’s community “hot spots” and owners were slapped with SLA violations for reneging on license stipulations, as well as one for the open use of cocaine.
In September, 2010, the SLA issued another violation for disorderly premises after a fight at the club left a bouncer with a broken leg. On Aug. 7, 2011, there were five stabbings in front of the establishment.
The SLA began proceedings to revoke Crown KTV’s liquor license in September of that same year, as problems at the club continued to pile up, including 50 calls to 911 and eight arrests in March of 2013..
The board responded, in January, 2014, when Crown KTV sought to renew its liquor license, by adding a laundry list of stipulations to its approval.
Because the board’s vote is only advisory, had it instead recommended that the SLA deny the license, it would have lost the opportunity to ask the SLA (which was likely to renew the license, whatever the board’s vote) to put restrictions on the club.
But, said Willis, the stipulations appeared to do little to stem the tide of problems at the club.
“Thereafter, each month, new SLA violations were issued,” Willis said. Crown KTV’s license was finally revoked — after an additional eight SLA violations and five arrests — in June, 2014.
Six months later, Go One Sushi entered the picture, notifying CB 10 three times between January and April, 2015, of its intention to apply to the SLA for a liquor license, an application the SLA eventually denied
By then, the ownership of the establishment was “confusing, at best,” Willis said — and it only got worse.
In May of 2016, an entity named Ming Hao Inc. was formed, listing the vexed venue’s address as its premises. It also applied for a liquor license, after which an “owner” named Jun Lin appeared before the Police and Public Safety Committee to say that he intended to run the business as a restaurant.
But he said he wouldn’t be removing the location’s plentiful, private karaoke rooms.
“Based upon, among other things, the unchanged configuration — which does not lend itself to a restaurant use — the very limited menu presented, the proposed late hours of operation, and the limited kitchen hours, the operation appeared to be one of a bar/lounge, not a restaurant,” Willis explained, stressing also the committee’s concerns over Lin’s complete “lack of experience” with licensed establishments, nevermind one with the rap sheet of Crown KTV.
Seven months later, on Apr. 1, 2018, a 41-year-old man named Wei Lin was fatally stabbed at the club, which, from the outside, appeared to be closed when officers arrived.
However, on the inside, 68th Precinct commanding officer Capt. Robert Conwell said, it appeared to be a fully-operational karaoke club, carrying on (and serving booze) without a liquor license. At that time, he told board members at an October, 2018 committee meeting, the establishment was operating under the name Go One Sushi.
At least 10 people were on premises at the time of Lin’s death, Conwell said, but no one called 911 or reported the incident to the police. Instead, the victim was dropped off at Maimonides Medical Center at almost 5 a.m.
By the time the hospital alerted authorities, Conwell told committee members, the place had been bleached.
On Aug. 8, Department of State records say, Ming Hao Inc. was dissolved. But, the very next month, CB 10 received the 30-day notice for the liquor license now on the table.
Yi Mei Chen, who says she is the owner, although the applicant is Jun Lin (who is the listed owner for Ming Hao, and who Chen says is the manager), again claims that she will be running a restaurant only, despite the fact that on the 30-day notice, the selected method of operation was lounge and karaoke (a mistake, according to Chen’s rep).
But, a questionnaire submitted to the committee left blank the method of operation, Willis said, and a floor plan submitted to the board, again, kept at least some of the private rooms intact — but no microphones.
In addition, she said, the applicant couldn’t detach herself from the previous establishment (she said she owned the establishment at the time of the murder but was away at the time) — which, despite her claims of it having been non-operational since the murder, racked up 311 complaints for loud music in early 2018.
Following the committee’s recommendation, the full board voted to deny the current application, as well as to pen a detailed letter to the SLA regarding the basis for the board’s recommendation.
The letter, Community Board 10 District Manager Josephine Beckmann told this paper, has been sent. She has also done some outreach on her own to ensure that the agency keeps the board in mind for hearings on the application.
“Certainly, I have many concerns based on the premises’ past history,” Beckmann said, “so I think it’s important the board detail those concerns to the SLA as it begins its review. Most notable, I think, is that a murder occurred here under this same applicant.”
The district manager said she has a “summary” she likes to give the SLA for instances like this one.
“I like to say that we have well over 200 licensed establishments [in our district] and we really only have serious public safety concerns with a few of them,” Beckmann said. “This location is one of those few — and it has been a top concern of the boards through the years.”
Community Board 10’s vote is advisory only.
Update: An SLA spokesperson told this paper that, as of Tuesday, Feb. 12, the agency had not yet received the application in question.
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly reported that the premises is located at 648 64th Street. It is located at 848 64th Street.